If you don’t like your children’s friends …

Chances are you are going to loathe at least one of your kid’s friends, sometimes for no good reason, but this is one situation where you have to tread very carefully.

1. Never admit it. That’s the fastest way to make them infinitely more attractive to toddlers and teenagers. If you want to change a vague friendship into something resembling Romeo and Juliet in terms of passion and intensity, just say you don’t like someone. Also, never enthuse about anyone you think is a great influence as that can put the kiss of death on the friendship.

2. Take the long-term view. Children grow up, teenagers stop rebelling and parents learn to relax a little. Friends you are currently not keen on can be dropped overnight, turn into absolute charmers, or become the friend who is always there for your child, no matter what. Stay quiet and keep an eye on things, as well as being honest enough to admit you got someone wrong.

3. It’s not about you. Sometimes you don’t like a parent or a different way of bringing up children and that can translate into an unreasonable dislike of a child. Try to be honest with yourself – does a very confident child make yours seem timid, or a different approach to discipline undermine what you always previously thought was reasonable?

4. Befriend them. This works at every age. Don’t be sycophantic or overeager – just practical and friendly. When they are younger, do things with them such as making cakes, or include them in slightly odd activities, such as clearing out a shed and taking rubbish to the dump. Talk to them, listen to them, be interested. Give them slightly more responsibility than they are used to, so that coming to your home makes them feel more grown up. Similarly with teenagers. Treat them as adults and they find it hard not to respond. Also, your teenagers might find that the coolest person in school isn’t quite such a rebel with their feet under your kitchen table having a cosy cup of tea. Continue reading

  • Joan McFadden loves Sundays because she can do what she likes after a childhood in the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland.
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